It’s safe to say White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson passed the audition with flying colours.
In January, he stood before the national media and released the results of U.S. President Donald Trump‘s first physical. He praised Trump’s “incredibly good genes,” and his “excellent” health, while suggesting the president had super-human stamina with “more energy than just about anybody.”
So what if the president only sleeps for four to five hours a night? That’s “probably one of the reasons why he’s been successful,” proclaimed the good doctor.
Trump probably couldn’t have delivered the news any better himself, and that hyperbolic assessment quickly won Dr. Jackson a fan in the oval office.
“He’s like central casting — like a Hollywood star,” Trump was reported as saying about Dr. Jackson after that performance. That was good enough to land the doctor his next gig as the president’s choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs – the second-largest U.S. government agency.
Dr. Jackson doesn’t have any experience running a vast and troubled bureaucracy, in fact he apparently has no management experience at all. But the White House called him “highly trained and qualified.”
In the world of Trump, he checks-off the top-tier requirements: the president likes him, he has a military background, and perhaps most importantly, he looks and sounds good on television.
Fifteen months into this presidency, we’re seeing a clear pattern. Trump is surrounding himself with an inner-circle that seems more like it was designed by a casting-call than a comprehensive search for the best and brightest.
Last June, Trump set aside time at his first full cabinet meeting for his cabinet secretaries to take turns awkwardly heaping praise on him in front of the cameras.
WATCH BELOW: Cabinet members praise Trump in first full meeting
Since then, and after several staffing shake-ups, hiring decisions seem to be fully motivated by past praise and the future prospects of selling Trump’s message.
The president’s new pick for National Security Advisor, John Bolton, was most recently a Fox News commentator, who couldn’t get confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under president George W. Bush.
But as far back as 2015, Trump admitted he admired Bolton from his frequent appearances on TV. “I think he’s a tough cookie, and he knows what he’s talking about,” he told Meet the Press.
Trump’s new pick for chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow was a business commentator on cable channel CNBC, and while he’s been a mainstay on Wall Street, he has no formal economics qualifications.
He’s also a cheerleader for Trump’s economic policies (despite disagreeing with him over tariffs), and as Trump explained “Larry has been a friend of mine for a long time. He backed me very early in the campaign.”
Perhaps that’s qualification enough for this White House, at a time when the president is surrounding himself with deferential voices who aren’t likely to challenge his views.
Pitchmen have become preferred to policymakers, by a president who cares deeply about ratings.
Jackson Proskow is Washington Bureau Chief for Global National News.